Old Rules of the English Language


We have no doubt that many of you have spent months and years cramming and memorizing the rules of English grammar. Those who excel at communicating in English can truly be proud of themselves. We are all really great, because the study of languages requires enormous intellectual costs. It is all the more unpleasant to find out when literally hard-won grammatical rules become obsolete and are no longer used as the language develops. However, this is a fact - which you need to come to terms with and accept.

We live in a world where communication is evolving faster than the speed of sound. Modern technology has also radically changed the way we communicate in writing. And yet, many of the grammar rules taught today still adhere to accepted norms.

The following grammar rules can now be considered obsolete, and if you haven't fully figured them out yet, congratulations - you can forget about them.

1 - comma is now placed everywhere

In school, you were probably taught to use commas in only four ways: to separate homogeneous parts of a sentence, subordinate clauses, introductory elements, or inversions. The use of the comma is now more flexible. Many authors use commas as ' breathers' to add emphasis, for example.

2 - now it's ugly to end a sentence with a preposition

There is a legend that Winston Churchill answered the question about the end of a sentence with prepositions like this:

'This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.'

Churchill was apparently at odds with ending sentences with prepositions, as are contemporary writers. Indeed, ' about what are you talking? ' sounds more beautiful than ' what are you talking about?'.

3 - now you can not agree on nouns and pronouns that replace them

This issue arose when women grew weary of using ' he' as their intended gender. An equally clumsy ' he or she' also weighed down the sentence. This has led to the use of the pronoun ' they' when the person's gender is unknown, even though it does not agree in number with the noun it replaces:

'Each child should take in their belongings after school.'

4 - now you can separate infinitives

To split the infinitive means to put an adverb between to and the verb, for example. It used to be more correct to say ' to sit quickly,' instead of ' to quickly sit'. In the past, the division of infinitives was frowned upon, but today, it is left to the discretion of the writer/speaker.

5 - using WHOM

The difference between who and whom is becoming less and less relevant. Since most people use ' who' in all cases, using the previously correct ' whom' sounds pretentious.

6 - now you can use sentences without subject or predicate

Some use incomplete sentences to emphasize a certain meaning. The use of snippets is a stylistic device, and is usually acceptable in all but the most formal writing styles.

7 - use a comma before and

Previous enumerations used a comma before and (apples, oranges, bananas, and pears). Now, in almost all countries, it is customary not to put this comma.

8 - now you can start a sentence with a union

In the past, it was unacceptable to start a phrase with a word like ' but' or ' and', but it's so common now that few people pay attention to the rule itself.

9 - use of passive voice

The active voice has been praised as evidence of good speaking style, but in some cases, the passive voice simply does its job better. Therefore, today the active voice ceases to be a strict requirement and gives way to the passive.